Thinking B2B: Mapping out ABM frameworks
by Warren Moss (@warrenmoss) With account-based marketing (ABM) enjoying a resurgence of late — and rightly so, particularly in the B2B space — the key component to successful implementation is deciding on the most-appropriate framework to use, to achieve the company’s stated objectives.
There are three key frameworks to choose from when deciding on an ABM strategy*:
- Typically, this is used to target either must-win or must-defend accounts. These are the really mission-critical ones — if you lose this account, it’ll be catastrophic and, if you win it, it’ll really move the needle on your business.
- This is best-used for targeting accounts that share common characteristics: the same vertical, industry, geographies or internal criteria, such as growth prospects, revenue opportunities or potential to churn.
- This is applied to accounts with much-broader characteristics, like a broad-based search for SMEs, for example.
In terms of deciding whether to deploy ABM in the first place, there are a few conditions that need to be true to understand whether it’ll be an effective solution for a company. Is it a B2B business? Is a high concentration of its revenue sitting with few customers (think the 80/20 rule). Does the organisation have key account teams dedicated to those 20% accounts? Are what those top-20% accounts buying big-ticket items from you? If the responses to those questions are largely positive, then ABM could be an effective solution.
The next step is deciding which of those in the 20% get one:one attention and which get one:few. Account selection definition comes into play here, because nearly every company categorises and segments accounts differently — some by revenue, some by profit, others by number of employees and others even by opportunity. Generally, in most organisations (unless they have dedicated ABMers (an increasingly common job title), the number of true one:one ABM campaigns a company can handle at any given time is about 10.
Let’s look at a company such as BidVest as an example, because it’s made up of a head office, a holding company and a number of companies sitting under that umbrella. Deciding whether to target a company like that using one:one or one:few depends on an understanding of how the company makes its decisions. If it makes all its their buying decisions at holding company level, then a one:one approach is the best fit. If it makes decentralised decisions at individual company level, there’s a strong argument for a one:few approach.
It’s about understanding and mapping the decision-making unit (DMU). If you went the one:one route because decisions were made at the top level, you wouldn’t exclude influencers and influences that sit at the individual company level. If those decisions are made at the individual company level, you’d map a DMU for each company and include the influencers and influences at the holding company level.
Essentially, whether you’re applying ABM or not, a deep and thorough understanding of the company, its people and the space it operates in is non-negotiable.
Corrected at 2.54pm on 11 April 2019. Our previous edit had stripped away which framework went with which explanation. We regret the error.
Warren Moss (@) is the CEO and founder of Demographica, a multi-award winning full service agency that specialises in the B2B category. He is the chair of both the Direct Marketing Association of South Africa (DMASA) and the Assegai Integrated Marketing Awards (Assegais), as well as the only African to judge the B2 Awards, which recognise the top performing B2B marketers in the world. Warren contributes the monthly “Thinking B2B” column, which looks at the latest trends in B2B communications and explains why it is fundamentally different from B2C comms.
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